Film review: Attack the Block (2011), directed by Joe Cornish
It’s dark and nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker) is on her way home to a tower block somewhere in London, when a gang of knife-wielding teenagers (John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones, Franz Drameh, and Simon Howard) mug her. Great.
The teenagers then spot something that crashes into the ground in a nearby park, and find an alien. That they kill and bring back home to the tower block. And then all hell breaks loose. As it turns out, the alien they found wasn’t alone, and the other aliens are keen to get their friend back.
The night has only just begun.
Also starring Nick Frost as Ron, Luke Treadaway as Brewis and Jumayn Hunter as drug lord Hi-Hatz.
Mr T and I were of the exact same opinion after seeing this film. When the film was mentioned in the company of a friend of ours, he lit up saying it’s a brilliant film, and wow, those teenagers, he could really see some of his friends reflected in them. Needless to say, this was not a view shared by us. We saw a bunch of unsympathetic, ill-behaved teenagers who had it coming. So yeah.
When the teens later find out that Sam, who they previously mugged at knifepoint, lives in the same tower block they assure her that they had no idea, because if they had they would never have mugged her. After all, you don’t mug people on your own doorstep. Her reaction, like ours, was along the lines of “so it’s perfectly okay to mug people but only if you don’t live in the same building? Assholes.”
Our mutual friend said something about how one of the kids in the film didn’t want to deal drugs, but that’s what he was pushed into doing, and okay, fair enough … but I’ve never thought the excuse of “we have nothing to do, so we’re going to we’re just going to loiter around being intimidating to people and moan about having nothing to do and how people wrongly perceive us as intimidating” (often followed by “we’re bored, let’s do crime”) is particularly valid. There are a whole lot of things you can do when you have “nothing to do”. Stop waiting for someone else to come along and tell you what to do. Go mow the lawn (start with ours, if you like, it needs doing), trim a hedge (again, ours need doing), bake a cake, make dinner, READ A BOOK, watch a film, start a blog, learn the guitar, volunteer at a local charity shop, whatever. There are plenty of things you can do that are actually constructive. There might not be lawns to mow in a tower block in urban London, but you can still do the dishes. If you want to hang out with your friends, play a boardgame. (They’re fun, seriously. Settlers of Catan is a great entry level game.)
But okay, aside from finding the protagonists a bunch of pricks – with the exception of nurse Sam – it’s a film about a tower block besieged by scary, murderous beings from outer space. It gets bloody. It doesn’t get a lot of character development, because at the end, the teens are still a bunch of pricks – or at least, what’s left of them. (It’s been pointed out that characters unwilling to change die, characters willing to change for the better survive. We’ve only seen Attack the Block once, so we can’t really make that distinction.)
The special effects worked and were good. Might have expected something a bit cheesy in the effects department considering the smaller scale nature of the film, but no, that was all good. The shots of the tower block were also very effective – no doubt anyone who live or have lived in similar places can relate. I’ve never lived in a tower block myself, and the ones I’ve visited in Sweden have been a lot more inviting than this one, but then, renting an apartment in Sweden is more the rule than the exception like it is here in the UK.
Overall, Attack the Block is a decent film about a very localised alien invasion and the kids trying to fight them off and defend their territory. Just a shame about the characters, even if the two youngest ones were funny. The actors were great, though.
3.5 out of 5 missing dogs.